What's the Purpose of a Wedding?

My wedding is less than three months away, so I’m frequently asked the same question by many caring people at church, in the grocery store checkout line, at the bank, and at Starbucks. “Are you excited for the wedding?” they’ll ask with enthusiasm. I really should come up with a standard answer. But I always end up stumbling through an assortment of phrases that hopefully sound convincing enough. I try to smile a lot and describe how wedding planning is coming along. By the end of the conversation I feel like smacking my hand on my forehead. If they had asked if I’m excited to marry my sweet fiancé, I would’ve said with confidence, “Yes! I can’t wait!” So why have I been trying to muster up my excitement about my wedding?

Marriage shines the radiant light of Christ’s gospel.

Aren’t I supposed to be over-the-moon thrilled for my wedding day? Aren’t I supposed to be so motivated to plan every detail? Isn’t this supposed to be the best day of my life? Shouldn’t the excitement keep me up at night? Why don’t I answer those nice people with a resounding “Yes!” and a bright smile?

An Insecure Bride-to-Be

The honest truth is, I’m afraid my wedding won’t meet expectations. My expectations. My family’s expectations. Guests’ expectations. Facebook friends’ and Instagram followers’ expectations. As girls who dream and dream of a future wedding day, our hopes can fly higher than the sky. And with Pinterest, our expectations cross over into the platinum wedding range—when really, what’s realistic is more akin to an aluminum foil wedding! Add in the pressure of seeing friends’ gorgeous wedding photos on social media, and I’m beside myself. Is my wedding going to measure up? Will people be impressed? Or will they be critical and say, “Oh, it was just okay.” That stress threatens to eat my bride-to-be soul. The anxiety squashes the excitement I’d hoped to enjoy. I’m going through the wedding-planning motions, but my heart is saying, “How could this wedding ever measure up?” Then Jesus speaks to my heart. And He tells me the purpose of a wedding isn’t to knock people’s socks off. It isn’t meant to be the culmination of my fairy tale dreams, either. What’s His purpose for a wedding? Here’s what I’m discovering: Marriage shines the radiant light of Christ’s gospel. The ultimate purpose of marriage is meant to be a picture, a foreshadowing, of Christ’s marriage to His Bride, the Church. Earthly marriage is merely a glimpse of wonderful, incredible things to come. In This Momentary Marriage, John Piper describes a marriage’s ultimate purpose:

“Marriage is patterned after Christ’s covenant relationship to His redeemed people, the church. And therefore, the highest meaning and the most ultimate purpose of marriage is to put the covenant relationship of Christ and His church on display.”

In Ephesians 5, the apostle Paul describes the marriage relationship—a husband who sacrificially loves His wife like Christ loves the Church, and a wife who submits to her husband as she submits to her heavenly Groom.

Weddings should proclaim Christ’s goodness and rejoice in His redeeming power.

I’m humbled when I think of the power of the gospel in marriage. When I’m confronted with this biblical truth and the responsibility that comes with it, my ideas of fairy tales and the perfect venue feel so insignificant—and almost silly—in comparison. My wedding day should proclaim Christ’s goodness and rejoice in His redeeming power. In A Christ-Centered Wedding, Catherine Strode Parks and Linda Strode emphasize the importance of planning a wedding with the gospel as the focus. Their practical advice is based on the truth in God’s Word, and it’s been a blessing to me as I plan my wedding. (A big thanks to the lovely Paula Hendricks for this engagement gift!) I love how they encourage brides to incorporate the gospel into their wedding day as much as possible. Here’s the reason:

“There is no other human relationship that so beautifully displays the sacrificial love of Christ for His bride. Marriage is a witness of God’s glory and grace to children, to families, to the church, and to the world.”

That puts things into perspective, doesn’t it? Our future wedding days aren’t about the cake, the dress, the flowers, or the food. Those details are great, and those details can serve your guests, but those details fall short if Christ is missing from a wedding.

Start Planning Now

What does that mean for you, a girl who’s still singing “Some Day My Prince Will Come?” My advice: start planning now. Not for your ideal wedding gown or your bouquet (though you might’ve already pinned hundreds of photos on your Pinterest board). But for how you can become a bride-to-be who will honor Christ in her wedding. Begin cultivating in your heart a deeper love for the Lover of your soul—your heavenly Groom. It’s all too easy for the buzz of an engagement and the whirlwind of wedding planning to drown out the gospel; but if we’re focused on glorifying Christ in our future marriage, we’ll be able to share the truth with our family and friends who witness our marriage ceremonies.

A Joyful Bride-to-Be

So what about those fears and anxieties and expectations? I’m asking God to quiet my soul with His love (Zeph. 3:17). And I’m asking Him to replace my worries with the joy of His gospel. That’s what my wedding should be about, anyway.

“Because marriage is God’s design, His doing, and meant for His glory, Christian marriages should be different. A sacrificial and submissive marriage is shocking to the world. In such a marriage, a husband and wife do not seek their own glory but look to one another’s good first, to the glory of God. This kind of marriage is beautiful—it’s what marriage was meant to be.” (A Christ-Centered Wedding)

What expectations do you have for your wedding day? Do you have ideas for incorporating the gospel into a wedding? How can you become a future bride who loves Christ more than people’s expectations?

About the Author

Samantha Keller

Samantha Keller loves lazy lake days, strong coffee, and writing about the ways Jesus transforms our everyday messes into beautiful stories. She digs the four seasons in northern Indiana, is probably wearing a Notre Dame crew neck.